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Rejoice in the Law of Liberty! Lesson Application Ideas for "Christian Science"

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Rejoice in the Law of Liberty!

Application ideas for the Bible Lesson on "Christian Science"

For June 25-July 1, 2007  by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S.

Editor's Note: The following background information and application ideas for the Christian Science Bible Lesson for this week are offered primarily to help CedarS campers and staff (as well as friends) see and demonstrate the great value of daily study of the Christian Science Bible lessons year-round, not just at camp!   You can sign up free to have these mets emailed to you in English by Monday or in French or Spanish by Wednesday: CHECK www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/ FOR A FREE TRANSLATION of this weekly "met" offered in FRENCH by Pascal Bujard of Switzerland AND NOW in SPANISH by Ana Arcioni of Spain. 

 

"The impregnable rock of Scripture, the eternal Law of Jehovah, which cannot be shaken, remains forever the hope and encouragement of the saints of God."  So reads Abingdon's paraphrase of the Golden Text.  Centuries come and go, but God's law is unchanging.

 

Sometimes laws are viewed as restrictive.  Rules and regulations don't always coincide with human nature.  But in the Responsive Reading, the Psalmist gladly receives the law of God.  He loves, and obeys it.  God's law isn't intended to stop us from doing what we would naturally do, but is there to mark out the path of life for us.  It exists to help us.  Rather than restricting our behavior, it brings us liberty-freedom from restraint.  From what restraints does God's law liberate us?  We are liberated from the bonds of sin, sickness and death.  As you read this Lesson think about what bonds are restraining you.  Do you accept them?  Or are you asserting your God-given freedom?

 

Section I: The Law Isn't a Burden; It's a Blessing

The law of God "is no mass of lifeless ordinances, but a living expression of the totality of God's will" (The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary On the Bible).  God's law serves to bless every aspect of human experience.  In keeping the law "there is great reward" (B1).  The Psalmist prays that his every word and thought be in accordance with God's law.  The law acts like a lamp to show us the way in the darkness (B2).  Often when new ideas are born, proponents of those ideas are inclined to completely do away with the status quo.  Jesus knew better.  Although he had fresh ideas regarding traditional Judaism and Law of Moses, he worked largely within the structure of the Jewish system.  He said he didn't come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it (B3).  Jesus introduced his ideas concerning God's law with the promise of blessedness (B4). "Blessedness is higher than happiness," writes Dummelow.  "Happiness comes from without, and is dependent on circumstances; blessedness is an inward fountain of joy in the soul itself, which no outward circumstances can effect."  Certain trends of thought taught that only a privileged few could achieve a state of blessedness.  Jesus had the broader view espoused in the 19th Psalm.  He taught that everyone-even the poor, uneducated, and downtrodden could find joyful liberation through God's law.

 

The beatitudes describe conditions of readiness to receive God's law.  J.B. Phillips translates "poor in spirit" as "those who know their need of God."  In the Old Testament, the "poor" often referred to those who, in spite of having few worldly goods, placed complete confidence in God as the true source of strength.  Dummelow notes that being poor in spirit is a condition opposite of pride, self-righteousness, and self-conceit.  It is a spirit of wishing to learn rather than to teach.  Abingdon defines "they that mourn" as "those who are peculiarly sensitive to sin in themselves and in society, and who feel deeply all distress caused by the greed and covetousness, the selfish ambitions and cruelty of men."  Do either of these conditions describe you?

 

Jesus expected his followers to be able to follow rules willingly.  He called his followers "the light of the world."  As the light of dawn spreads over the world, so were his disciples to fulfill their mission to serve all mankind.  In doing so Jesus taught that, unlike the scribes and Pharisees who made demands they themselves couldn't carry out, the disciples would be living examples of the law through good works, deeds of kindness, and outstanding character.  The truth taught by Jesus promised true freedom (B5).

 

Jesus also promised that he would send a "comforter" that would abide with us forever (B6).  The Greek word parakletos means "one who is called to one's aid" similar to a legal advocate.  This Comforter is understood by Christians to be the "presence of God in Christ continuing with his faithful servants and witnesses after the ascension of Jesus, fulfilling his perfect work" (Interpreter's).

 

Mrs. Eddy perceived Christ as the animating principle of Jesus' mission (S1).  It gave him authority over all evil.  Mrs. Eddy also felt that Jesus' teaching was nothing other than Christian Science.  To her, Christianity and Christian Science are the same thing (S2).  This statement may be alarming to some.  If one believed that Christian Science was a discovery or philosophy independent of Jesus' teachings or concocted by Mrs. Eddy, alarm would be justified.  But, Mrs. Eddy discovered through her study and application of the Bible, the spiritual laws that governed Jesus' mission.  When applied they produced the same results.  She saw her discovery as the continuation of Jesus' mission, which she named Christian Science (S4).  She didn't make Christian Science up.  Its origin was spiritual (S5).  This Science teaches, "God is to be understood, adored, and demonstrated" (S6).

 

Section II: Love God and Love Man

Love motivated everything Jesus did (B7).  The rules Jesus taught were simple: Love God and love man (B8).  Love for God included complete devotion to the law inwardly, outwardly, and religiously.  Nothing was particularly unusual about loving one's neighbor, but Jesus expanded the application of the law to include all mankind, irrespective of rank or condition.  Paul warns that even though Jesus teachings free us from the oppressive legalism of life under the Mosaic Law, they did not release us from its moral obligations.  Jesus' teachings included "responsibilities of life under grace...authentic freedom is attained only as [we live] in radical dependence on God's grace and in radical obedience to his will" (Interpreter's).

 

Mrs. Eddy echoes Jesus' rendition of the commandments to love God and man by calling them our "first duty" (S7).  She calls love the "true incentive in both healing and teaching" (S8).  Sometimes people might feel that Christian Science has an overabundance of rules.  There seem to be a bunch of things that Christian Scientists "don't do" or "don't believe in."  But our Leader emphasizes what we should do and that the motive for it all is love.  Love points the way to all right activity and clears the way for its fulfillment.  Jesus was moved with compassion and healed multitudes.  We too, can find "millions of unprejudiced minds" ready for spiritual refreshment (S9).  We are urged to give to them freely-unafraid of a possible negative reaction. We don't need to give them a gallon of truth, just a cup will do.  Are you hesitant to share the truths you know with those who need it?  If our motive is love we don't need to hesitate or fear at all.  Mrs. Eddy looked forward to the day when love governed our actions and God's omnipotence would be realized (S10).  She calls Love "the vital part, the heart and soul of Christian Science.  Vital means, "that which is necessary to life...that on which life depends" (The Student's Reference Dictionary).  The "heart" in Hebrew meant "the inward man;" the "soul" often meant the "physical life" (Dummelow).  So when Mrs. Eddy alludes to the Scripture, we see that she meant that it's necessary in Christian Science for Love to permeate our lives inwardly and outwardly.

 

Section III: The Healing Power of Love

Jesus derived his authority from the Scriptures.  He understood his mission as the fulfillment of prophecy.  He was anointed to preach "deliverance to the captives" and liberty to those who are "oppressed downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken..." (The Amplified Bible).  Once, Jesus found such a woman in the synagogue (B11).  Jesus called her to him and healed her.  He did not hesitate to heal even in the synagogue.  The rulers of the synagogue were indignant because it was the Sabbath.  Jesus' reply put them to shame.  "Ought not this woman...whom Satan hath bound...be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?"  He freed her of the demons that oppressed her and she immediately stood tall.  Paul encourages all followers of Christ to "stand fast...in liberty" (B12).  This meant to Paul, freedom from all external authority-the spiritual autonomy to allow conscience to direct our lives (Abingdon).

 

Mrs. Eddy saw this healing power as the demonstration of Christian Science (S12).  She also felt that those who understood Truth could demonstrate this power today.  Truth liberates.  When we realize that God gives us dominion over the material senses, we are longer be enslaved by them (S14).  Sickness has nothing to do with Truth.  The deceiver binds us to sickness and sin, and Truth opens the doors to freedom (S15).  As Jesus was undeterred by hostile opponents, we can trust that Christian Science is fully capable of delivering sufferers from all evil (S16).  When faced with sickness we can stand fast and hold to the facts taught in Christian Science.  If we do, we are promised victory (S17).

 

Section IV: The Ongoing Mission of Deliverance

The disciples continued the healing mission of their Master, proving that the healing power rested on eternal, spiritual law.  This spiritual power attracted seekers from throughout the region (B13).  The religious establishment, jealous and envious of the disciples' success, continued to oppose their work.  The disciples must have been assured that God guided their actions.  Though harassed and imprisoned, they continued teaching and healing.  They were filled with the healing Spirit.  There are many students of Christian Science today who hesitate to even mention religion for fear of being thought ridiculous.  The disciples were ready to face all obstacles and nothing could stop their message from getting through.  The Spirit of God inspired them.  II Corinthians promises, "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (B14).  This means freedom from all bonds, including those which hinder spiritual healing.

 

Just prior to the discovery of Christian Science, slavery was abolished in the United States.  As momentous an event as this was, Mrs. Eddy felt the need for a higher freedom.  In Jesus' discourse with the Pharisees in John 8, he spoke of a deeper need than social, political, or economic freedom.  Likewise, Mrs. Eddy longed to save mankind from bondage to sin, sickness, and death.  The Pharisees didn't understand what Jesus was saying.  Today, the established institutions of our time don't quite get it either.  It is said that a frog placed in a pot of cold water with a fire under it will remain in the pot as the water heats up and eventually perish as the water boils.  The frog is unaware of the gradual increase in heat.  If a frog is placed directly in hot water, he will attempt to escape.  Mankind is in a similar situation.  The "oppressive laws" of mortal belief have been going on for ages and mankind accepts them as natural conditions unaware of the need for escape.  As Jesus did, Mrs. Eddy saw that these laws "must be denied and superseded" (S18).  Against the grain of humanly conditioned thought, Mrs. Eddy urged and fought for man's "inalienable rights" and freedom from "hopeless slavery."  We often get pretty adamant about our rights and freedoms in today's world.  Will we be as forceful about our rights to health and holiness?  Our Leader beckons to the world to accept God's law and be free (S19).  The section closes with the brief statement "Love is the liberator." (S20)  This hints at what it takes to keep the healing mission going.

 

Section V: Universal Love Is the Key to Freedom

So far, this Lesson has addressed oppression and opposition to healing from without the community of believers.  This section faces problems from within.  As noted earlier, the Old Testament taught that obedience to the law brought true freedom.  James echoes this teaching. (B15)  He entreats us to "look at [the law] minutely; and in it we shall see reflected our own best ideals, the image of what we ought to be; and by continuing to study it, and trying to conform ourselves to its ideals, we shall grow into the same image." (Abingdon)  Similarly, Paul cautions the Corinthians (B16) to have no divisions and to agree that Christ is the only leader of the church.  Everyone should be adjusted to the same view.  Abingdon comments, "The fellowship has been broken and the church prevented from declaring the mind of Christ to the world by the spirit of faction."  It should also be noted that this refers to cliques within a single congregation.  In addition to all the qualities mentioned that help us get along with each other, the true bond is love. (B17)  Putting on the law of love means surrendering to Christ's rule.  The "peace of God" has "cosmic dimensions" (Interpreter's) and is a gift to the whole community of believers.  We should also be thankful because the Christian life is not a burden, but a joy.  In II Corinthians (B18) Paul makes a "final appeal for self-correction...for the members of a divided church to work together for the common good." (Ibid.)

 

Science and Health describes the peace of God as the result of "calm and exalted thought." (S21)   Man is free to enter this spiritual state.  This oneness with God consists of "freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss." (S22)  The exalted consciousness of unity with God results in unity with each other. (S23)   This indicates that if we are having problems getting along and seeing eye-to-eye in church matters, our need is for each of us to take personal responsibility for getting closer with God.  Christian Science teaches, "divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation or object." (S24)  Therefore, when governed by God, man is harmonious.  From a spiritual perspective, we could never really be separated from God. (S25)  But we cannot forget that in order to demonstrate that indestructible bond, we have to demonstrate "Universal Love." (S26)  There's no way around it.  The law of God is the law of Love.  It is the key to breaking all bonds of slavery to sin, sickness, and death; it is necessary to overcome opposition without and within the church; it isn't a burden, it's a joy.  As we individually yield to this law, we will find the freedom to love unconditionally and work together to attain "the glorious liberty of the children of God and be free!"


Camp Director's Note: The above sharing is the latest in a series of CedarS Bible Lesson "mets" (metaphysical application ideas) contributed weekly by a rotation of CedarS Resident Practitioners and occasionally by other metaphysicians. This document is intended to initiate further study as well as to encourage the application of ideas found in the Weekly Bible Lessons as printed in the Christian Science Quarterly and as available at Christian Science Reading Rooms.* Originally sent JUST to campers, staff and CedarS families who wanted to continue at home and in their home Sunday Schools the same type of focused Lesson study and inspiration they had felt at camp, CedarS lesson "mets" are in no way meant to be definitive or conclusive or in any way a substitute for daily study of the lesson. The thoughts presented are the inspiration of the moment and are offered to give a bit more dimension, background and daily applicability to some of the ideas and passages being studied.   The citations referenced (i.e.   B1 and S28) from this week's Bible Lesson in the "met" (metaphysical application ideas) are taken from the King James Version of the Bible (B1-24) and the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. (S1-30) The Bible and Science and Health are the ordained pastor of the Churches of Christ, Scientist.  The Bible Lesson is the sermon read in Christian Science church services throughout the world.  The Lesson-Sermon speaks individually through the Christ to everyone, providing unique insights and tailor-made applications for each one.   We are glad you requested this metaphysical sharing and hope that you find some of these ideas helpful in your daily spiritual journey, in your deeper digging in the books and in closer bonding with your Comforter and Pastor.   Spirituality is your innate estate that connects you moment by moment with God. (See S&H 258:30) Christ is the gift of light that Jesus gave. This Christ light of spiritual understanding comes with and reveals infinite blessings. So, have fun unwrapping and cherishing your very special, spiritual gift(s)!   Then, wherever you are, share them with all as big blessings that make the Infinite difference!

Enjoy!

Warren Huff, Camp Director    director@cedarscamps.org (636) 394-6162

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The weekly Metaphysical Newsletter is provided at no charge to the 1,200 campers and staff blessed each summer at CedarS, as well as to CedarS alumni, families and friends who have requested it. However, current and planned gifts are a big help and are greatly appreciated in defraying the costs of running this service and of providing needed camperships, programs and operations support.  Click http://www.cedarscamps.org/giving for more about how you can provide support online or to get information or discuss privately how to make a special gift to help perpetuate CedarS work.

You can also mail your tax-deductible support to:

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To print a formatted and printer-friendly version of this week's Met just go to: http://www.cedarscamps.org/metaphysical/met.asp or your e-mail address can be added per your request by our staff at CedarS.   For additional support, or if you have any concerns, please send e-mail to: director@cedarscamps.org.


A new, visually-oriented and very helpful resource for study of the weekly Bible Lesson is being produced by The Christian Science Publishing Society and can be found at: myBibleLesson.com. What a great auxiliary to lesson study -- maybe even reading beyond citation markers using the handsome new student books now sold in Reading Rooms!   MyBibleLesson contains word definitions, Bible background, timelines and translations, plus many healing ideas to use. Why not check out this effort to help bring to life each beloved Bible lesson in order to bless the youthful thinker and Sunday School student (and teacher) in us all!  (Check out the front page picture taken at CedarS during the 2006 CSO Summit.)


You can receive or stop your free subscription to this weekly newsletter in your email box by Sunday or Monday of each week by subscribing - or unsubscribing --at www.cedarscamps.org/myCedars.

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